This one is going to hurt.
If I was writing this last year, I would probably open with something about how much I like seeing Martin Maldonado and John Lucroy split time. A lot has changed since then. In 2013 Lucroy emerged as one of the premier catchers in the game of baseball, while Maldonado showed why there is no reason for them to split the catching duties.
Even though I am not a member of the educational allegiance of awesome teachers, I always thought that I would be a nice teacher. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would be capable of failing someone. But as my grandmother always said, “there is a lid for every pot”.
As you should know by now, I grade my Brewers on three specific categories: Performance, Attitude, and the always unpopular “Eye Test”.
Performance – F
Like I said at the start, this is going to hurt. Maldonado only had 50 less at-bats than he did in 2012, but had half as many hits and home runs. His .169 batting average was beyond embarrassing. This roster contained both Rickie Weeks and Yuniesky Betancourt, so the offensive bar was already set very low on this team. However, Martin was able to show us that you can always be worse than one of the worst players in all of baseball (Betancourt…relax Justin). Then when you add-on to this the failed, “Let’s put Maldonado at 1st base” experiment, this was the type of season that ends a player’s career in baseball. There was a point in time where I thought Martin could have been our everyday 1st baseman, until he committed 3 errors in the 10 games he played there. I would be hard pressed to find another player who had the kind of regression that Maldonado had this season…maybe John Jaha? It was so bad, I wonder if Maldonado is even a lock to make the roster as the back-up catcher next season? My guess would be that he will have to re-earn his spot. This season could banish him to a career of Triple-A baseball, but we will have to see what the spring holds.
Attitude – B
Maldonado has always been a good guy. Seems like a good teammate. Always had his head held high, despite his horrific performance this season. That is good enough for me. A guy who doesn’t cause problems, or invite conflict, gets no less than a B in my class. You never see him fighting with other players, nor does he blow off the media. If only that was enough to make up for that .169 batting average.
“Eye Test” – D
What a difference a year makes. As a 25-year-old, getting called up to filled Lucroy’s roster spot after Luggage-Gate, Maldonado had all of the promise in the world. As a 26-year-old making spot starts at catcher and first base, I can’t even believe this is the same player. The guy seemed to have no concept of the strike zone and was completely inept at working a count. That was evidence by his enormous dip in on-base percentage. And even though he struck out almost exactly the same number of times he did in 2012, this season it seemed like those always came with runners in scoring position. I winced whenever Maldy would step into the batters box late in a game. He left me little, if any, reason to think he could come through in a big situation based on every other at bat over the course of the season. You may be wondering why I didn’t fail him…well, it is because I think he is an excellent catcher. In my humble opinion, the kid calls a pretty nice game. That is an underrated skill in the game today.
Overall Grade – F
At first, I thought it would be difficult to fail a Brewers player…but in fact it is not. After reading my own thoughts, I think it is safe to say that Maldonado was the least valuable player on this team (or “worst” for those of you playing the Home Edition). As a Brewers fan, I do not think that I would miss Maldonado if the Brewer cut him loose. As a Brewers writer, he is nothing more than a back-up catcher. Whether that is in Milwaukee or somewhere else. Martin would not be a starting catcher on any major league roster…unless you count the Astros as a major league team. This season was a real eye opener for this kid, and I do not believe that he has what it takes.